MontBell opens flagship store in Boulder

MontBell America, Inc., opened the doors on the company's flagship store in Boulder, Colo., on Nov. 2.

With owner/founder Isamu Tatsuno actively overseeing operations, MontBell Japan, a leading Japanese outdoor retailer and supplier, and its U.S. subsidiary, MontBell America, Inc., opened the doors on the company's flagship store in Boulder, Colo., on Nov. 2.

Located at the northwest corner of Pearl Street and Broadway, the 4,500-square-foot store occupies one of Boulder's most prominent retail locations. MontBell knowingly joins nine other retail competitors in the Colorado hotbed for outdoor recreation, but aims to differentiate itself with Tatsuno's motto of selling only products that offer functional beauty.

Even the store, which cost Tatsuno nearly $300,000 to renovate, espouses the functional beauty theme, with stonework throughout the store and a small bridge over a waterfall built near the main entrance.

MontBell has suffered through two other attempts at the U.S. market, but feels that its latest venture, coupling retail with wholesale will prove to be the correct mix.

MontBell America is currently wholesaling products to REI and Midwest Mountaineering and expects to open another 15 to 20 dealers for Spring '03.

SNEWS View: It is hard to argue with the success of MontBell on the international field, boasting $160 million to $170 million in sales last year through 30 of its Japanese retail stores and an additional 900 other dealers. It's hard to also doubt that others will find MontBell products attractive, if for no other reason than they are as advertised, functionally beautiful. On a recent media outing, every editor on the trip drooled over a MontBell down sweater, which found its way into a backpack. Indeed, several Colorado-based retailers, who when questioned by SNEWS as to whether they would carry MontBell with a company store so close to their backyard, told us without hesitation that MontBell was a top seller when they were last in the United States and would most likely be a top seller again and that yes, they'd carry the product in a heartbeat. We certainly do wish Tatsuno well. He's a gem and deserves to be successful.